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Determining the process for choosing trustees to act as stewards of your philanthropy’s assets is one of the most important decisions you must make. The slideshow here will take you through the twelve qualities of a good trustee.
1. Introduction: What should you look for in a trustee?
There is no single set of answers. A family foundation needs a lot.
2. Look for trustees who truly care about your foundation.
The responsibilities of a trustee are much too demanding for anyone who lacks enthusiasm for the job.
3. Find trustees who understand your foundation’s mission.
Eleanor Elliott, long-time board member of the Foundation for Child Development, advised that every trustee should be able to answer the question: "In 50 words or less, what is this place all about?"
4. Remember: objectivity and impartiality are a sine qua non.
The boardroom of your foundation is no place for special interests, temperamental bias or personal whim.
5. Choose trustees with skills that support your foundation.
Your board will need certain core competencies among its members such as management, investment experience, budgets and legal expertise.
6. Look for team players.
In foundations, major decisions are rarely made by one person. That’s why trustees must be able to resolve their personal differences and work together as a single body to achieve their goals.
7. Choose trustees who are willing to work.
Make sure candidates understand the scope of their responsibilities and demonstrate the willingness to give their time and energy to the foundation.
8. Recognize the value of practical wisdom in trustees.
Look for candidates with the capacity to see the big picture.
9. Look for people who are committed to the foundation.
Simply put, the trustee's sole responsibility is the foundation and its mission.
10. Choose trustees who are committed to philanthropy.
No foundation is an island unto itself. Every trustee, even in small family foundations, has a responsibility to act in a way that strengthens the world of philanthropic foundations.
11. Look for trustees who show moral sensitivity in the act of giving.
Power dynamics and oversized egos exist even in the world of philanthropy, but good candidates aren’t interested in wielding power.
12. Plan to succeed.
If you want your foundation to continue more than one or two generations into the future, careful planning and recruitment will make the difference between an effective philanthropic institution, and one where perceptions of unfairness and uncertainty abound.
Read the full article about trustees by John Nason at the National Center For Family Philanthropy.